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Open Contracting at the Local Level

Decisions taken at the local government level have a direct impact on people’s lives. Simply stated – local governments take care of local issues. Tax money is spent to make sure children can go to school, streets are safe and drinking water is clean. We count on local governments to deliver these services, but many struggle to meet the expectations of the public. Local governments face unique governance challenges and demographic and fiscal pressures.

At the same time, they shoulder the increasing responsibility to raise sufficient funding for these services and to spend the resources efficiently. In such a demanding environment, the risk of corruption is greater than in higher-level government bodies.

Contracting has the power to establish a foundation of trust in a relationship between a local government and its public. Transforming the public procurement process to be more transparent, participatory and accountable, can boost government integrity, efficiency, and efficacy thereby contributing to the building of a corruption-averse body.

One of the advantages of a local government is its proximity to the people that it serves – it allows for easier public participation in governance. However, reformers at the local level – government, civil society and business – often do not have access to the resources, learning and support they need to transform public procurement. Promising examples do not spread and scale at the rate required. To grow their number and the impact of their work, support for peer-learning, exchange of innovative experiences and responsive implementation support are needed.

Overcoming these hurdles requires effort and collaboration across a range of actors at different levels of government, as well as from civil society and the private sector. Of late, local governments who have started initiatives to make their processes to procure goods and services more efficient and accountable have come together with non-government actors in the Local Open Contracting Initiative (LOCI) – a global linking and learning mechanism (read more about LOCI here).